28 June 2013

in between

Five Minute Friday
So much of life happens in the in-between.  And there is such variety there too.

The vulnerable in-between moments of removing the swim cover and finding "cover" again in the pool.  Just moments, but so bare.

The in-between dragging days of a deployment and a redeployment.  The days that drag by and the guilt that hangs on the days when life really happens well.  The desperate wish to be together again throughout all those long in-between days.

Then there is the summer in-between days.  The best kind of in-between.  No worries, no hurries, just fun-filled days for the kiddos.  They learn to really live in the in-between, don't they.

The in-between jobs.  And in-between pant sizes.  In-between homes, straddling the past and the future in a hotel or someone else's home.

-stop-

So, wow, that is like the world's fastest five minutes ever.  Its my first time... well, actually I tried it once before but I forgot to turn the volume up on the desktop so I didn't hear the timer go off.  So this is my first real #fiveminutefriday.  Yikes!

Read more of the in between thoughts by checking out Lisa Jo's blog.  Click here!

25 June 2013

outside

"Outside?"

"Outside?!"

"O U T S I D E !!!"

I hear this repeated daily.  x2.  The plea to go outside.  Franklin & Lincoln are always desperate to be outside.  Generally, I am happy to oblige.  Everyone is happier if we spend time outside.  Even if its pushing 90 with high humidity.

While home in Michigan, it was fun to see our little nephews clamoring to go outside too.  Breeze would fiddle with the door until he earned his freedom; and both Wesson & Brecken were thrilled to get outdoors too.  Branden even showed us a "trick" with Brecken... if he was fussing and Branden stepped towards the door to go outside, the fussing would let up... if he backed away from the door it started back up.  That little boy wanted O-U-T.

The light is brighter there.  The colors more vivid.  There is such a variety of textures to experience.  Sounds are layered upon one another from near and far.  All of the little guys knew there was much to be explored outside.

So we let them explore. 

We all start out as explorers, don't we? 

Like Lincoln and Franklin, we use to crave that outdoor time, didn't we?

Somewhere along the way most of us begin to prefer indoors to outdoors.  We like a comfortable climate.  We like to control our entertainment choices.  We like what the walls and doors keep out. We don't mind the view from the window, but its handy that we can block that off too; you know, for privacy and comfort.

Before you know it, we are all comfortable in our little houses.  Cradling our little devices, playing games or watching shows.  So far from the outside that we might even get sucked in to a program about the outside.

We stop exploring.  We settle for near and familiar and comfortable.

I don't want to settle.

I want to begin my days pleading with my Father for "outside!"  Out from the near and the familiar and the comfortable.  I want to explore this world at this time and all the beautiful people I share it with right now.  I want to be childlike in my desires for the brighter light and the vivid colors, for the varied textures and layered sounds.  

I want to be barefoot and walk through the grass, even if it means occasionally stepping on a rock (or worse).  I want to feel the breeze that moves the tree branches and marvel at its refreshment with my sons and neighbors.


This isn't a new song, but the album was new to us on our road trip, so we listened to it many times.  As I ponder this inside/outside issue, this song repeatedly pops into my head. 


The Outsiders by NEEDTOBREATHE.

22 June 2013

seven

I've got a little bit of a love/hate thing going with these birthdays of yours, WJ.

Mostly because they're all... 

--b l i n k --

and then

BOOM!!
I mean, for real, with the whitewater rafting?  You couldn't even pretend to be a little bit scared so momma could've busted out some of my baby-Walker-soothing-techniques?  Daddy said you were "fearless."  And I think that word sums you up quite well, son.  I am so incredibly proud of you.  Six was such a super year for you.  You continue to light up the hallways at school and I have yet to meet someone that works there that doesn't adore you.

You do your own thing.  And you do it well.  You know what you like, you know what you dislike - but you are usually willing to give new things a try before deciding.  THAT is an awesome trait.

You are cute, you are smart, you have an incredible sense of humor, but most importantly you love well.  You always reassure me that you love me.  I don't think there is a day that goes by without you telling me so.  I treasure it each time...even if you don't really know that I do. You bravely prayed some prayers during this past year.  When I asked you to, you would pray "that momma wouldn't lose her temper,"  and sometimes you even prayed it when I didn't ask.  I love to see you stepping into your relationship with Jesus on your own - asking Him about things that matter to you because you know He hears each time.

Believe it or not.  You teach me.  So much.  I am looking forward to seeing what lessons I'll learn with you during the year of seven.

I hope you'll keep dancing in Kids' World worship even as more of your classmates decide they don't want to anymore.  I pray you'll rock 2nd grade just as hard as you did 1st grade.  I trust you'll become an even more awesome big brother this year (although, man, you totally owned that role this year!)  I expect that you will begin to grasp more and more just how deeply God loves you and begin glimpsing the goodness of the plans He has for you.  They are good and they are just for you.  No one can do what God has planned for you - except YOU!  Remember:
God created you exactly the way He intended to Walker J.  You are delight to Him and to all that know you (even Wilson although he may not admit that for a few years [or decades, maybe])

Happy Birthday Walker J!  Daddy and I are so proud of you!

20 June 2013

a little part of something big

You know we sponsor a child through Compassion International, right?

I really think its some of the best money we spend monthly.  We got a letter from Junior this week.  Its the first one we've gotten from him since he has seen the twins (we wanted to wait until it was officially official and finally final before we tried to explain it all to him.)  We sent him a picture sometime after Christmas and told him the story of our newest family members.  In his letter he said, "I love the twins.  They look alike!"  I'm just giddy over it.  We all get a kick out of his notes to us.  We wrote him back this week.  Below is a picture of what Wilson and Walker wrote to him.  Walker wrote a verse on the cut out of his hand, and Wilson chose a proverb to write and illustrate.  They did this on their own with just a nudge of encouragement.  ;)
One of my favorite things about sponsoring through Compassion is their transparency.  They recently participated in an independent study on child sponsorship programs and the results are incredible.  You can read more about it here.... an especially good read if you are skeptical about the benefit of sponsorship programs.

They also do Compassion Blogger trips which allow bloggers to come visit development centers and share their experiences.  There is a blogger trip ongoing in Nicaragua right now.  I cannot read a post about someone meeting their sponsored child and not cry.  Every. Single. Time.  I do sincerely hope that we will one day meet Junior.  God knows this.

You can read the bloggers posts here. Compassion Bloggers featured posts.

And I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage you to read this one today. "I've seen Best Again."  I think it really captures the beauty of sponsorship and the gift it gives to families across the world.

 You wanna be a little part of something big?  Click below to find out more!
Follow the Compassion Bloggers in Nicaragua

my arm is not that long

More lessons from the road trip.

We made a HUGE mistake by packing a little bin of toys for the youngest two - in their line of sight for the car trip.  Lincoln and Franklin would take turns requesting a toy from the bin.  I would grab what they asked for and hand it to them.  Then the toy would inevitably drop (or be thrown?) and wailing would ensue, followed by dramatic, frantic, repetitive requests for the dropped item.  I would then have to twist my body around into all sorts of fantastic contortions to try and find the dropped item.  Patting the floor with my hand in places where my eyes couldn't reach.  This was all kinds of fun.  There were a few times that I couldn't reach the item no matter how much stretching & twisting I did.  I would have to say, "I'm sorry but Mommy can't reach it."  Cue more emphatic wailing.  Awesome, I tell you.  This little scenario played out at least 67 times the first two days on the road.  By day three, we were smart enough to pack that bin in the back of the van.  Genuis!

On the way home there was a similar bit of this scenario cropping up.  We streamlined the number of Lincoln & Franklin items up front, but we had to keep the monsters and blankets - they are critical for sleeping.



See? Absolutely critical.

Of course, when its not sleepy-time its thrash-those-blankets-around-time.  I finally just started replying to the wailing with "My arm is not that long."  No more twisting or contorting - just fact.  My arm is not that long. Who can argue with that?

After issuing this statement a few times, I settled in to the front seat feeling rather proud of my declaration of arm length.  Watching the fields whirl past, listening to my favorite music, just grateful to be rolling along with my guys - a thought took shape.  I remembered that time in the Bible when God made a declaration about the length of His arm.

"Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear." -Isaiah 59:1

I love this declarative statement of fact.  Who can argue with that?  

Unlike my arm that couldn't reach the toys that had been tossed around, nothing is out of God's reach.  Furthermore, He never 'accidentally' puts things in our view and then gets frustrated because we keep asking for them/throwing them/dropping them etc.  He makes no mistakes.  He doesn't dangle things in front of us only to make us squirm.  He would love if we would boldly ask for His help.  Often.  Not unlike Lincoln and Franklin - repeatedly and with expectation.  His arm is not too short.  Ever.

02 June 2013

things we've learned

It's day two of our road trip. I'm sitting on the floor of the laundry room of our hotel. There's a random chunk of leather belt and a few discarded dryer sheets kicking it with me. Brad's in the room convincing four boys that now is a great time to sleep. I'm not sure who has the better deal at the moment. Thought I'd use some of the dryer-cycle-time to tell you some of the things we've learned thus far. 

1- if Lincoln sucks air in and out of an empty juice box rapidly for a minute (or two?), he's going to get an upset stomach.
2- if you get back on the road after juice box incident (see #1), and Lincoln repeatedly says, "Ima fro up", he means it.
3- you can never pack too many changes of clothes for toddlers 
4- Franklin has a mild case of claustrophobia, he did not want to walk under any rock formations (or next to tall ones) at Rock City
5- the upside of misty rain while visiting Lookout mountain is that you really understand the phrase "the battle above the clouds" 
6- Walker has a daily photo limit, once reached he will opt out of all family photos; if he is forced in, you'll know it
7- Ruby Falls is a one hour (+) walking tour underground; Lincoln and Franklin were polar opposites.  I carried Franklin (see #4), Lincoln however would have preferred free reign of the cave and wanted nothing to do with holding hands or waiting for people ahead of us. He let his preference for freedom be known through much wailing and gnashing of teeth. 
8- I can't get over the preciousness of the boys sharing beds; Wilson + Lincoln and Walker + Franklin. Nobody fell out of bed last night and I'm hopeful for an equally successful night tonight. Wilson did get crowded out and ended up switching sides with Lincoln last night :)
9- We had some diaper leakage today - see #3
10- I've already laughed so hard that I nearly cried more times than I can remember. I think it bodes well for the rest of the trip. 

Lincoln's face in this picture pretty much captures his entire Ruby Falls experience.